Berlin Stories

In The Berlin Stories, Christopher Isherwood explains the daily life of a British ex-patriot living in Germany during the early 1930s. His section called “A Berlin Diary: Autumn 1930” explores the daily life and activities of the protagonist and his friends/acquaintances. Within this chapter, the reader is introduced to daily life, seeing a glimpse of how an everyday person may have lived during that time.
One line within this chapter was especially surprising given the financial and economic difficulties of the time. The protagonist, in talking about the character of another, states, “like everyone else in Berlin, she refers continually to the political situation, but only briefly, with a conventional melancholy, as when one speaks of religion. It is quite unreal to her” (223). This reaction is surprising given how dire the situation in Germany was at the time. Did the average person tend to ignore or dwell on these problems?
This piece of the text brings up interesting questions about the time. The timeless issue of the strength of a semi-fictitious piece as a source for historical analysis. This type of interpretation forces the reader to interpret and analyze questions about population demographics and popular support. How was the population so unsupportive of attempts made to help them during such an uncertain time? How did people like Hippi talk only briefly about the problems that were present in Germany, but also in almost every other European country during the latter part of the 20th century?

3 thoughts on “Berlin Stories

  1. When you asked your question about the average person dwelling on the issues, I think you answered it indirectly with your question about them being unsupportive of politicians trying to help them. I think that although people were going through some tough times after the economic crash in 1929, people may have just tried to find positive things in there lives, like their families, to try and get their minds off of politics, even though that may have been extremely difficult to avoid.

  2. I think this passiveness to politics is very similar to the way things are today. While we understand the problems in our nation, we sometimes see no reason to dwell on them because we see them to be out of our control. In the caze of Germany, I think it could be because these people haven’t found help yet from the government. This mistrust in the government probably came from the fact that the government’s lack of help towards the population fed into the depression in the first place.

  3. I think they ignored these problems in order to save themselves from utter hopelessness. If they succumbed, they risked losing not only their dignity but their will to live.

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